July 20, 2014

3 summer fun ideas for families with teens and toddlers

Hi all! I am Jo Davis, author of the blog “Surviving Teens and Toddlers: A Mother’s Tale Straight from the Trenches”—my story of raising five kids ages 17, 15, 14, 11 and 13 months while trying to keep my sanity. All of my posts touch on the gap between the teens and the toddler. Mostly, the posts are my observations, but some are tips and ideas for other parents of teen and tots. Today, I share a tip with all of you, one that I have recently discovered out of necessity. Enjoy.
It is the peak of summer. You have tried every traditional summer activity, the vacation, grandma’s house and even a few trips to the mall. You’ve scoured Pinterest and tried things so weird that your children will never trust your sanity again. You’ve performed every Facebook suggestion, Tumblr idea and Parents Magazine tip. Nevertheless, summer is still here--more than half over actually--and you have NO IDEA what to do with the couch potato teens and mischievous (probably naked) toddler for the rest of the summer.
No clue.
I’ve been there. A few weeks ago when I ran out of things to do and the kids seem to run out of energy to find their own activities. The biggest dilemma? What on God’s green Earth, can I do to engage the teens and appease the toddler? This took some thinking and a few trial runs before I came up with a formula of sorts for entertaining the gap, or planning activities to fit a family with both toddlers and teens.
3 Formulas for Summer Fun
This is going to take a little thought on your behalf, parents. The following formulas are only criteria to look for in potential activities for the family, along with a few examples. Make this your own, to fit your tribe.
1. Open Air + the Arts
You can never go wrong with activities that take place in the wide-open spaces.
These places allow room for the toddler to run, play, sing, dance, get loud and go nuts without bothering other people nearby. The teens get to talk, laugh and get comfortable as well. The arts part is a wide component to this formula. It includes anything from a drive-in movie to an air show, music festival (during the day when bands are most family friendly) or even plays in the park. It’s basically anything that engages the teens’ by the senses—which works for the toddler as well.
2. Food for the Eyes + Random Facts
      Toddlers love shiny things and colors. So do the teens, but with a little something more. Believe it or not, random facts do capture the teen’s interest. They love knowing something odd, freaky, crazy or just plain weird about some of the most mundane things. Surprising facts about history and culture can be found at any museum—art, science, history and museums built to honor special people or places. Walking tours are another option. You can strap the toddler into the stroller and let the teen navigate you through a tour of historical sites, art, or buildings. Anything to engage, stimulate and keep them moving.
3. Getting Dirty + Good Deeds
Okay, this one may a harder sell for the teens—volunteering to do anything is against their nature. Trust me, they will change by the end of the activity. Why? Doing  a good deed makes us feel needed and more connected with our fellow human race. (Don’t tell teens this. They will try to commit you if you do so.) Not even the surliest teenager can resist the feeling. The getting dirty part is for the toddler of course. You can find volunteer opportunities around you or in nearby towns such as the local parks, the zoo, botanical gardens, or beaches. Beach cleanup is an example, or trail maintenance with the local park service. These opportunities are posted on social media sites and the websites of the parks, beaches, etc.
There you have it, 3 summer activity ideas that you can use to help plan out the rest of the summer. They are designed to work for the kids on both sides of the age gap so that you can do things together, as a family. Just know that the hardest part comes after the planning. That’s figuring out the most creative way to get the teens off the couch (and if he is anything like my Mikey) your toddlers to put clothes on for entering public space. I’ll leave those ideas up to you.

1 comment:

  1. Having had the pleasure of sharing some of these memories, I have to say, they are AWESOME! They work! Everyone is happy, and the couch gets a break. I am definitely taking mental notes for my rugrats' teen years. Thanks for the tips, and for generously sharing your family/family events with us.